close-up of seed with feathery filaments
Two Poems
Karen Bram Casady


Boots

She thought she’d never wear her black boots again
The ones with pointy toes and three buckles
Whose spiky heels sank down into the mud at her mother’s funeral
So that every time she took them out
She saw the remnants
And remembered
Soft earth
Gray grass
Sunlight contemplating tombstones of dead Jews
A hole in the ground that became her mother’s bed
The rabbi holding her hands as she recited a Hebrew prayer
Her children speaking loving words
Her fingers motionless on the coffin in final goodbye
The clods and divots striking the metal casket
Her son vigilant as the black dirt tucked her mother in forever
God’s presence
Hushed wind
Fall day
And she wondered
Just as she had washed her hands in the tradition of her forefathers upon returning from the cemetery
Should she also wash the heels of her boots?
But each time she took them out
She saw the remnants
And remembered
 

Mortality

I’m next in line
The buffers are all gone
And the edge just keeps getting closer
And closer
“We’ve all got to die of something,” my mother said.
Now she is dead
And with each ache and pain I wonder
If it’s mortality tip-toeing at my door
Squeezing under the jam
Sidling up to me, trying to be my friend
I have glimpsed it before
Quietly with the birth of my first child
At forty, the realization that he would surely outlive me
Brought me up short, muted me, aged me, swaddled me in stillness
As I watched youth’s immortality make its exit
Sure-footedness has vanished, sensible shoes prevail
Under-the-tongue aspirin rides in my purse
Reading glasses always nigh
The precipice just over the horizon
Nothing between me and it but high cholesterol
When my mother-in-law died, my mother said,
“She was old, she had a good life, she’s at peace,
Now it’s time for my dinner.”
Perhaps that’s all there is to it.